Here at Tall, we were fortunate enough and well prepared to have everyone working from home before the government enforcement came into play.
We’re in a very lucky position to be able to do that, which is something I’m very grateful for. However, just because we were prepared and able to, didn’t mean we wouldn’t have to make some changes and learn a few things along the way; In fact, it was only a matter of days until we became aware of some changes that needed to be made.
Here are a few of the key things that I took note of when making the change to working from home;
- The working day has become shorter
- My time working has become more focussed and it has a downside
- The importance of keeping up with my routine
Your working day has become shorter?
Yes! And it’s down to one thing. Communication. No longer can I peek around my machine and speak to a member of the studio guys or walk across the room to speak to the client services team; things have become a little more regimented on the communication front.
For example, we have multiple daily calls for multiple reasons;
- A morning huddle with everyone to say hello over a coffee and set out a plan for the day
- Myself and our Head of Client Services, Lucy stay on the call after everyone has left to discuss anything that needs addressing
- An end of day studio catchup between myself and the creative teams to discuss issues throughout the day and answer any questions for the work to be carried out the following day
- A closing huddle with everyone to discuss any findings/learnings from the day and highlight any issues or positives to be followed up on the following day.
The four items above happen every day, all with varying lengths depending on things to be discussed. Combined, they can easily take up to an hour of the day. All of them are necessary to keep clear lines of communication throughout the company and ensure things stay on track.
Further calls happen throughout the day with individual members of the team to answer any questions or advise on anything that comes to mind.
Until the lockdown came into place, I never realised how much I took for granted being able to turn and speak to anyone I needed to until I wasn’t able to. It does have its upsides as it allows for a break between tasks and helps clear your mind and you move onto the next thing on your to-do list.
Now all this has become a lot more structured and task orientated, it surprised me just how much time it takes out of the working day, meaning I have less time to carry out my tasks for the day.
Why did I have to become more focussed? And that’s bad because?…
Based on everything I explained previously, I simply don’t have as much time to carry out my daily tasks. Naturally, having fewer distractions from external phone calls, people coming and going from the studio, you become much more focussed on your tasks at hand. Rather than working 11 hour days, I do certain things to allow me to progress at a faster pace;
The key thing is mute my inbox, chat and SLACK.
No, not because I’m trying to be rude, sometimes its a necessity.
By telling the team when I’ve got my head down and when I’m available allows me to focus and them to know when I’ll be available again and plan around it if necessary. This then allows you to focus on the task(s) at hand meaning they’re done in less time and to a high standard.
And why is this a bad thing? You have to be careful, if you don’t give yourself a hard cut off you’ll keep working because it’s easy to think “what else do I have to do?” and the next time you look it’s 11 pm and you’ve been working since 8 am. Yes, you worked a long day and got things done but you’re also going to burn out and burn out quickly.
Keeping your routine
I’ve been asked on many occasions “how are you coping in the lockdown?” and my honest answer is, great! Surprisingly, the days seem to be flying by faster than when I was working in the studio. I can only assume this is down to the point I mentioned earlier, that I’m more focussed on my tasks at hand and fewer distractions.
I also believe that my positive state of mental health is largely down to keeping my normal daily routine. I do exactly the same things each day as I did when travelling into the studio. I just get a little more time to do them which means my dog Frank has lost some weight and is continually tired due to me being able to walk him for longer.
Keeping your routine means you start and finish work as normal meaning you give your mind some time to relax and focus on something else or not focus at all. The best thing that allows me to switch off is some headphones and a long walk with Frank when the weather suits that is. There are few things I find more relaxing than music and a walk. Failing that, a book is a close second. Try and take some time to read a book, even if you’re not much of a reader. While reading, I find myself right there in the story as if I were one of the characters. It’s a real escape for your mind and something that’s thoroughly entertaining.
In these different and uncertain times, it’s as important if not more important to focus on yourself as much as your work.
Adapt the way you work to make things better for all involved.
Do what you can when you can to rid yourself of the day’s stresses.